05/13/07 — Eyes on the sky: America's military close up

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Eyes on the sky: America's military close up

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on May 13, 2007 2:02 AM

Amanda Thompson had never met a fighter pilot before.

So when her father, Mike, introduced her to a member of the 335th Fighter Squadron at the Wings Over Wayne air show Saturday, the 4-year-old put one hand over her face and touched the captain's leg with the other.

"What do you say?" Mike asked his daughter.

"Thank you," she said.

Seymour Johnson Air Force Base officials said more than 100,000 people attended this year's show.

Claire Donovan and her fiancé Joe Plummer were two of those who showed up to take in the sights and high-speed acts.

"We're always looking for something to do," Claire said. "It's going to be hard to trump this one anytime soon."

Joe pulled her close and kissed her on the head.

"It will be a lot better when we've got a few kids to bring to this thing," he said.

Families holding hands, sharing laughs and sitting on the lawn were commonplace along the flight line.

Betty and Charles McRoberts traveled from Raleigh to "get away from the big city for a weekend."

"It's nice to come down to a place like Goldsboro and spend the day," Betty said. "This has exceeded our expectations."

Charles said he had never come down for the air show before this weekend.

"I've always thought about it but found a way to talk myself out of the drive," he said. "After this, I won't make that mistake next time."

Across the flight line, a Wayne County family was enjoying a bite to eat, looking up every few seconds at the aircraft passing by around noon.

The Larsons have been to Wings Over Wayne before, but this year was special, they said.

"This is his first one," mother, Mandy, said, pointing to her 7-year-old son, Will. "There's always been some reason he couldn't come."

Munching on a hot dog, the boy said it was worth the wait.

"This is so cool," he said, wiping mustard off his cheek with his sleeve. "I hope I can come every year."

And then there were the self-described "airplane fanatics" -- a group of five Virginia residents on their fifth air show of the year.

Wally Sampson said Wings Over Wayne was the best yet.

"We've had great weather, seen the most amazing acts and been treated with respect by the people here in town," he said. "I won't forget about Goldsboro next time I drive through."